September Update – What’s Goin’ On – Writing Life Edition

Every September I typically do a catch all post about what’s going on. I guess I should do that now, seeing as we’re taking a little mini-getaway for a few days.

I recently handed in the completed young adult novel BOOK OF DREAMS and I’m feverishly working on my next novel WHERE IS ETHAN SINCLAIR. Both books are contracted. BOOK OF DREAMS is forthcoming from DUET BOOKS, the YA imprint of INTERLUDE PRESS. It will drop in 2022. WHERE IS ETHAN SINCLAIR is forthcoming from the same publisher and will drop in 2023.

Duet/Interlude is also the publisher of my most recent novel, THE CAMINO CLUB. It was truly my biggest work of passion to date. It was my Chef’s Kiss to my love of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain. Earlier this year, THE CAMINO CLUB took the honor of SILVER WINNER in the Independent Book Publishers Association‘s BENJAMIN FRANKLIN BOOK AWARD for TEEN FICTION. I actually just received the certificate and stickers from my publisher yesterday. Here’s a copy of my novel with a newly affixed sticker below (you can click on the photo to go to the IBPA website)!

So my September roundup news is that I’m plowing away at finishing my ninth novel as the deadline rapidly approaches. And, we’re also planning and scheming and dreaming and hoping and praying for our upcoming (OCTOBER) trip to PARIS, FRANCE! We had planned to travel there in 2020, but as Robbie Burns said…”The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley, An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!” or, you know, ‘The best laid schemes of mice and men, Go often askew, And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy!’ In early 2020 the mice and men occupying this great orb of ours were put on a bit of a standstill. We got just about as askew as we could get. Though we’re not out of the woods quite yet, the two of us thought we’d try to do some pandemic times travel. With 35 days to go until liftoff, it is yet to be determined if our best laid plans will go askew this time around.

If and when we get to Paris, there will be much note taking. I have a new novel mapped out and wanted to revisit Paris to get all the details ironed out. It’s a meet-cute set in Paris and I wanted to be a stickler with the setting. The novel has been on hold since the pandemic crushed the aforementioned mice and men. I will be talking more about this book in the future, as it progresses.

I think that’s all I have going on in my writing world…two books coming out and one on hold. Not bad, I guess.

My one and only Pandemmy setting offering is a short story from DUET BOOKS/INTERLUDE PRESS. BILLIONS OF BEAUTIFUL HEARTS is available now. It’s the story of two nonbinary teens who find each other on Instagram and fall in love during the lockdown. You can pick it up HERE.

I feel like I really have nothing to report. Funny how that doesn’t quite align with the truth, though. I mean, I guess having two books contracted for release is a big thing. As the release dates get closer, I’m sure I’ll be more excited about things. For now, I’m in the trenches…I can’t quite see the publication forest for the writing and editing trees. Here’s some artwork from an early reader of BOOK OF DREAMS, though. I love this stark piece…it captures the creepy bookstore owner in the story quite nicely. It’s a good representation of the book’s dark aesthetic!

Original Artwork by Jarom Verdonk – Artist’s rendition of Jack Chalek, the villain in BOOK OF DREAMS.

OH! And I almost forgot! September is also the MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON WRAP PARTY! We usually attend this event in Huntsville, Ontario. Sadly, it’s another Zoom event. Ugh. But it also means it’s easier to get to. September 25th is the day the awards will be handed out. I did not enter a novel into this year’s BEST NOVEL AWARD contest. I was busy finishing BOOK OF DREAMS, so that’s how I used my time. To enter the contest, you have to have written the entire book AT the marathon. I used the time to work on reaching the deadline to submit the finished manuscript to my publisher, so my manuscript didn’t qualify. The amount raised for this annual fundraising event will also be announced at the wrap party. You can learn more about the marathon at the link at the beginning of this run-on paragraph. 🙂

Onward to the end of this shit-storm of a year, I guess. May 2022 be far more pleasing to both the eye and the palate.

PS: If you’re in CANADA, don’t forget to VOTE. But don’t vote PPC or CPC because that would be bad. We don’t want to vote HATE into power, thank you very much.

First 3 Days of the Camino de Santiago – We Are in Love with Spain!

Just pictures. We are on the Camino de Santiago, loving every minute! Began in Astorga this time. Mini Camino. (These next few days will be my September update…because we’re out here living!)

Astorga, before the walk!

Walking Day 1 – Astorga to Foncebadon

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Day 2 – Foncebadon to Ponferrada

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Cruz de Ferro!
Such an epic milestone on the Camino de Santiago! Cruz de Ferro…

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WCDR Events, MNM Event, and Stuff of Goodness…My September Cornucopia Mash-Up Blog Post

So much going on of late! The fall is always a busy time when it comes to a writer’s life. A writer with an orbit in the Durham Region in Ontario, anyway.

The Writers’ Community of Durham Region just had its 20th Anniversary Gala last weekend. What a milestone. Together, we have been supporting each other for two decades. Some literary giants past, present, and future have been involved with this amazing organization. It is, perhaps, the best run community for writers in the world. I don’t say that in passing…it is a phenomenal resource for writers. And not just the acclaimed ones…the door is open for writers on all levels of the journey.

Hi-jinx may have ensued at the Gala. There’s a camaraderie in this organization like no other. When we get together we tell stories…on walls!

wallstory

And there was, apparently, a crime committed at the event. I received an email from an offshore account with a picture attached. It seems somebody is attempting to ransom some doohickey things. They want me to let the organization know that they want $100,000.00 in unmarked bills dropped off at a garbage can in downtown Oshawa in exchange for the return of their tree tchotchkes. But I refuse to help bargain with thieves. I’m so above that kind of nonsense. I do, however, wish to share exhibit A:

The nerve of some people! Seriously!
The nerve of some people! Seriously!

Speaking of the WCDR…five more things to add on that front.

Their Phoenix WCDR Short Story Contest is now open! Top Prize is $750. It’s open internationally. Closes to submissions on Oct 25th! Submission fee is $20. Click on the image below to go to the site to see the FULL SUBMISSION GUIDELINES (which you must always follow to a tee).

Click to discover PHOENIX WCDR Short Fiction Contest!
Click to discover PHOENIX WCDR Short Fiction Contest!

Also coming down the pike for the WCDR clan is the next WORDS OF THE SEASON! This is a regular member reading event that takes place in Pickering. This one will be the Culture Days edition.

Date: Friday, September 25th, 2015

Time: 6:30 pm

Location: The Bear (A Firkin Pub) located at 1294 Kingston Road, Pickering (Liverpool and Kingston Road).

Admission: Free! Food and drink are available for purchase.

MEMBER READERS are already lined-up, but this event is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC and there will be an OPEN MIC session after the scheduled readings. SO, bring some work…come join us. Read for the crowd!

Culture-Days-version-2-300x294The WCDR will also be present at this year’s TORONTO WOTS! That’s WORD ON THE STREET…the cross Canada celebration of words. Rain or Shine. Come out to our booth to meet some of the WCDR people (MYSELF INCLUDED). You can find out just how vibrant this amazing organization is. You can see for yourself why we members keep drinking the Kool-Aid!

The WOTS is at HARBOURFRONT CENTRE on Sunday September 27th (11am-6pm). Come on down and look for the WCDR booth!

ALSO coming down the tracks is the next WCDR ROUNDTABLE MEETING! This is our monthly breakfast meeting. About a hundred of us get together and break bread and listen to the guest speaker and socialize. It’s a great event…the glue of the organization, really. There are also mini-workshops after each meeting for the eager to learn writer.

The Roundtable Meeting happens on the second Saturday of every month. They are open to everyone…not just members. And you will be warmly greeted and welcomed to the fold. The next one is Saturday October 10th. It’s not on their website yet…but will be shortly. Keep your eye out for it…the venue is changed for the October meeting.

Okay…so, NOVEMBER…the 5th thing to mention about the WCDR:

bookapaloozaYep! It’s happening again!

BOOKAPALOOZA 2015 takes place SATURDAY NOVEMBER 21st at The Durham College, Centre For Food/Bistro 67 at 1604 Champlain Avenue, Whitby.

I will have a table at this event and I will be selling a few of my books: SUMMER ON FIRE, BURN BABY BURN BABY, and, HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN. This is a great event to showcase local talent…and to discover resources for writers and readers. YOU SHOULD COME!

WHEN:

Saturday, November 21, 2015
10:00 am to 4:00 pm

WHERE:

Centre for Food
Durham College
1610 Champlain Ave.
Whitby, ON

On to other events!

Tomorrow I head to HUNTSVILLE, ONTARIO for the MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON WRAP PARTY!!! I talk about the marathon non-stop to whoever will listen, but just to sum up…it’s a yearly novel writing marathon where 40 writers get together in one room and each attempt to write a novel. AND…more importantly…it’s a fundraiser for literacy programs in Simcoe County/Muskoka region. We have raised over $135,000.00 so far for literacy. No small feat! It takes place every JULY. The wrap-party takes place every SEPTEMBER. The writers get back together, celebrate each other…hand out awards, do readings, make merriment! It takes place tomorrow…and I can’t wait! (-:

That’s it. Not so much, really. (-: Oh…also…I’m writing. My agent, STACEY DONAGHY of the DONAGHY LITERARY GROUP currently has my 2015 Muskoka Novel Marathon novel on submission. It’s called PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE and it’s an LGBTQ YA novel. I will be reading from this novel at tomorrow’s MNM event, and at the WORDS OF THE SEASON event. I’m excited about this one…so much fun to write. We’ll see if it finds a home. (-:

I’ll leave you with a song, but first—

I always say that writing is absolutely a solitary and lonely endeavor. It is, well and truly. It is something one must do alone. BUT…if you choose a writing community lifestyle, as opposed to solitary existence as a writer, you will enrich your life ten-fold. If you’re not close enough to the WCDR community (AND TORONTO IS CLOSE ENOUGH…JUST SO YOU KNOW!), find a writing community in your area. It will change your life. Community is everything!

I leave you with my favourite writerly song:

September – #1 With a Bullet

Another hectic September. Surprise, surprise. I should have seen this coming. Not that I’m complaining!

I think this coming week is the busiest. Tonight is a committee meeting for the Ontario Writers’ Conference. We are heading into full-swing planning and organizing for our May, 2013 conference. This is a labour of love for each and every one of us on the committee. Our vision was to create an atmosphere of learning and a celebration of words. Even at our busiest, this is a wonderful project we deeply love. Look for 2013 updates to start springing up soon on the OWC website, as well as through social media.

Maybe I should have used a more apropos word when I said HECTIC. Is a string of parties, celebrations, etc. really something one could call hectic? September is always busy, but it’s also always the best time of the year. Lots of great things happening.

This coming weekend, we are off to Huntsville for the 2012 Muskoka Novel Marathon Wrap Party! Best Novel Award winners will be announced, as well as all the participant-voted prizes for things such as B.I.C. and Spirit Award. It won’t matter in the least who wins any of these things. Clearly, everybody who took part in the marathon has already won (as evidenced by the photo below!)!

$15,000 raised for literacy! From left to right: Rob Armstrong, CEO, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka; Fiona Cascagnette, Vice President, Child Development, Family Support and Community Programs, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka; Nancy West, Team Leader, Huntsville Employment and Literacy Services, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka; Paula Boon, Muskoka Novel Marathon 2012 Co-Convenor; Karen Wehrstein, Muskoka Novel Marathon 2012 Co-Convenor.

Yes. That is a cheque for $15,000.00. That’s what the marathon raised this year to put into the ring and fight against illiteracy. The MNM is such an amazing event. I can’t say enough about it…but in the end, it’s the money raised for literacy that matters. Everything else is just the icing.

There will also be a workshop on Saturday, after the wrap party…and the MNM contingent will probably walk to the next leg of the three event day—Supper at THE COTTAGE. We’re a pretty big family, the MNM contingent—so I feel for the poor restaurant. They’re in for quite a swarming. (-: I do think it’s great that we will be able to break bread together again, though. A lot happens during the July marathon weekend. In 72 hours, you write a novel AND discover that you are a part of a new family—a family that eats and sleeps and laughs and cries and sings together. We probably do so much more than that also, but—it’s complicated. (-;

To explore the history and the future of the MNM, click on the chair! (-:

There are happenings right up to the end of September…some big and some small. They’re all awesome, though. Hope you’re enjoying YOUR September. Just like every other month on the calendar, blink and it’s gone. Remember to capture the moments. (-:

(If you’re in Oshawa this coming Thursday, drop into Boston Pizza on Taunton just east of Harmony. My younger brother will be jamming there in the evening. (-:)

September

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I was just going to write a blog about how hectic my September is looking, then I realized I did the exact same thing last September.

I’m sitting on a Muskoka chair (that’s an Adirondack chair to my American friends), looking out on the Lake of Bays in Dwight, Ontario. It might be said that I am contemplating life. 😉

My family is in the water–the dogs circling them to make sure they are safe–and I am just relaxing. We are staying at the same cottages we have stayed at for 4 summers now. The ‘compound’ consists of 10 small rustic cottages arranged in a semi-circle with a house in the middle.

The house is owned by the family who runs the cottages. I have been daydreaming about how perfect it would be to run writing retreats here. And daydreaming about actually buying the place from the (quite possibly) soon to be retiring couple who run it.

It really is the perfect setup for writing retreats…and it’s minutes from Huntsville. I wonder how easy it would be to attract writers up to this beautiful location for week-long retreats? Hmmmmmm?

And facilitators, of course!

Maybe dreams are started to help us find THAT thing we really SHOULD be doing!

September – ALWAYS a busy month! (Updates)

I don’t remember a September that wasn’t action-packed. Historically, it just seems like one of those months where everything happens at once. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! This September is no exception. Things started to roll today, and it’s looking like yet another exciting September for me.

September 1st – My poem WHEN VENUS TAKES A RIDE was posted on the website of the Parliamentary Poet Laureate. It was chosen as the Poem of the Month by the Parliamentary Poet Laureate, Pierre DesRuisseaux. It will be featured for the month of September, and archived on the site for two years. I wrote this poem after my first day on the island of Lamu, off the coast of Kenya. I went there this past December with the Summer Literary Seminars, as part of their Kenya writing program. We took a plane to Manda Island from Nairobi and then hopped a dhow over to the island of Lamu. Once there, the group was given a walking tour of Lamu Town. During this tour, one of the poets in the group, Venus Thrash, was given a ride on a donkey (there are no cars on Lamu, but there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of donkeys). The poem is about that experience.

September 11 – Just like the second Saturday of every month (except for August), the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR) hosts it’s monthly Breakfast Meeting. If you’re a writer in OR NEAR the Durham Region, these are NOT to be missed. The September Breakfast Meeting speaker is Neil Crone. Personally, I think he’s one of the funniest people in Canada. It’s a DON’T-MISS month! Neil will be talking about writing humour.

September 24-25Uxbridge Celebration of the Arts. It’s a 25-year anniversary celebration of the vibrant artistic community of Uxbridge, Ontario. And when I say vibrant, I mean electrifying. I’m constantly amazed by the artistic community in this small town just west of Port Perry, Ontario. I’ve been drawn there on several occasions for BIG TIME artistic endeavors. This time, I’m partaking in the fun. I’ve been chosen to be the playwright for the 25-year anniversary celebration. On the 24th of September I will be given a prompt and I will have 25 hours not only to write a one-act play, but to send it off to my director, Jessica Outram, have her run through rehearsals with the actors AND have it performed live on stage at the Uxbridge Music Hall at the 25th hour. So I’m giving myself about 5-6 of those 25 hours to actually pen the script…as I think they’ll need the bulk of the hours to rehearse. This is the kind of thing I absolutely love! I was fortunate enough to do this type of playwriting on two other occasions, for Driftwood Theatre, as one of the playwrights for their 2009 and 2010 Trafalgar24 Play Creation Festival. I can’t wait to find out what I will be writing about! AND…the best part…watching it come to life just a few hours after it’s written. I am constantly amazed by the talent of the directors and actors that I am fortunate enough to work with!

September 26th– I will be MUSKOKA BOUND! It’s the wrap party for the 2010 Muskoka Novel Marathon. This event, held every July, has quickly become one of my favourite writing related activities! You sit in a building with approximately 30 other writers and you write a novel—in either 48 or 72 hours. How amazing is that! It was a great group this year (as it is every year). We had a lot of fun, and it’s hard to believe at the end of the weekend that there was actually time to put together a manuscript between the fun. I wrote a Young Adult novel this year – HALF DEAD AND FULLY BROKEN. I’ve been editing it since July. The wrap party is on the 26th…all the writers regroup and award trophies for various different things–BIC AWARD for Bum in Chair, Most Prolific Writer, Spirit Award, Rookie of the Year Award and the Remy Award for most money raised. Most money raised, you ask? The marathon is a double-edged sword. It is a huge benefit to those writers brave enough to participate, but it’s also a marathon of hope. Each writer raises funs for the Muskoka Literacy Council…it’s writers helping readers. The marathon raises funds and awareness for the council—it helps them to spread the joy of literacy. Another prize awarded at the wrap party is the BEST NOVEL AWARD—awarded, actually, in different categories—Best Adult Novel, Best Young Adult Novel and Best Children’s Novel. The manuscripts are sent to 6 industry judges immediately following the marathon…and they read and judge them over the summer. The winning novels get sent to participating publishers for consideration. The benefits of this event are just neverending! I have my eye on the hands on favourite for Best YA this year—I’m not going to name names (she will not be mentioned here!), but I had the opportunity to read one of the manuscripts and I found it STELLAR. We will see what the Wrap Party brings us. I consider this wrap party the official end of summer, even though Huntsville is already quite in bloom with turned foilage by the time it rolls around.

Month EndMuseitup Publishing is preparing to launch! My Young Adult novel SUMMER ON FIRE will be published by Muse in July, 2011…but the publisher is launching in October. We’ve been talking excitedly about this launch behind the scenes. September is bound to thrive with chatter between publisher and cover artists and editors and writers. It’s a great family to be a part of! I’m really excited about the launch…and can feel the tsunami of its approach! September is THE month to be a Museitup member!

Not to mention! September is another month of busy planning for the 2011 ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE. This is an ongoing labour of love that factors into every month on the calendar. We want to organize the best conference every year. To do this, we must be dedicated to putting in a lot of volunteer hours. It’s worth it, though…so rewarding to see the happy faces of writers on the day of the conference!

And I’m certain there will be more excitement along the way. Like maybe a reading from author friend Karen Cole  somewhere in Uxbridge, maybe! Or maybe some poetry read by friend Barbara Hunt!  (-;